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DRAGONBALL: EVOLUTION

Action
"How do we make action sequences look and feel different from what audiences have experienced before?” That was the first question Wong posed to his team when he began thinking about the action fans would expect from a film based on Dragonball. The answers coming from the acclaimed stunt team, 87Eleven, as well as from director of photography Robert McLachlan and visual effects supervisor Ariel Velasco Shaw, certainly pleased Wong – and promise to delight not only fans of the property, but action movie enthusiasts as well.

VFX supervisor Velasco Shaw employed what Wong calls "fist-cams” – from the noted company Iconix – that are so small they could be attached to an actor's fist, allowing a character's punch to come right into the audience. "It's a kind of ‘fist POV',” Wong elaborates. McLachlan contributed the suggestion of using new high-speed digital Phantom cameras to create super-slow motion for key action sequences. "We did a lot of research and development with the Phantom cameras,” says McLachlan, who had discovered the-then experimental photography on YouTube. In the YouTube video, a balloon filled with water was popped, with the "action” caught at 1000 frames per second. McLachlan and Wong were impressed with the results. "The most spectacular thing about it was that the water retained the shape of the balloon before it fell,” Wong remembers.

More "low-tech,” but equally important to amping-up the action, were the training and stunts overseen by 87Eleven, and stunt coordinators Jonathan Eusebio, Julian Bucio Montemayor, and Jared Eddo. Their first order of business was to get the cast in shape, followed by having them undergo an intensive program of action choreography, and finally, making the actors comfortable with the considerable wire work and acrobatics they'd be required to perform. It was an incredibly rigorous program – "When [the actors] weren't working, they were training,” says Eusebio.

The young cast members underwent individually-designed training regimens – no two characters have identical fighting styles – as well as special diets to maintain their strength and stamina during production. In Dragonball lore, Goku is the greatest warrior on the planet. And Justin Chatwin took the responsibility of capturing the character's skills, very seriously. Before the start of principal photography, he underwent six weeks of nutritional guidance and stunt and martial arts training with 87Eleven, continuing the demanding regimen during the shoot. "It all got my adrenalin going,” says the actor, who also notes he gave up sugar, wheat and pasta during his stint on the film. Chatwin spent a minimum of five hours training each day, studying karate, kung fu and a Brazilian form known as capoeira, which ritualizes movement from martial arts, games and dance. For the more extreme acrobatic maneuvers, Jackson Spidell stood in for the actor. Spidell's signature move: flipping up in the air, then spinning halfway, and, on his way down, striking an opponent.

Chow Yun-Fat, as Roshi, was given "softer” martial styles, like Tai Chi, befitting the character's age and experience. Jamie Chung, as young and ever-enthusiastic martial artist Chi Chi, was given "hard” fighting styles, including kickboxing, karate, and Thai boxing. Chung especially delighted in a pivotal fight scene that has Chi Chi fighting…Chi Chi. (Mai, a shape shifter, morphs into Chi Chi to steal a Dragonball.) "I had to play both sides of the fight and learn choreography for both Chi Chi and Mai,” the latter a kung fu practitioner, Chung recalls. Visual effects, including motion control and split composites, enhanced the complex battle.

And what kind of training is required for the actor playing one of the most powerful figures in the universe – Lord Piccolo? According to James Marsters, it was drills involving pun

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